I’m excited to have been asked by Mel Jones from HMR Community Cancer Service (Living With and Beyond Cancer) to come and do a talk at this MacMillan Fundraiser on Saturday 30th November at Butterworth Hall in Milnrow.
I’ll be talking about how standard Western diet has become a factor in increasing poor health in Western society, and what steps we can take to improve our wellbeing and quality of life. I’ll also be sharing some quick and easy, yet tasty, health-promoting recipes, which are even more vital at Christmas. It’s a time of fun, family, but also increased pressure.
I’ll also have a stall there if you’d like to come and chat with me about your health, dietary habits, or how nutritional therapy could help you.
I really hope to see you there, though I’ll share more on the event nearer the time.
“It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”
I was looking for quotes for a presentation I’m doing in a few weeks and I came across this quote by Hippocrates.
It got me thinking about the clients that come into my clinics and how true this is. How it’s important that each client is the focus of every consultation, not the disease.
So how is this applied exactly?
Any two people can walk through the door with the same condition, but they will be totally different in terms of root cause, personality and therapeutic needs. They will have different issues in their lives, different dietary preferences, different drives, different support networks, different goals. Some people require lots of support outside of the consulting room; others require none.
As a therapist, it’s important for me to recognise these factors and deal with them appropriately – to treat each client, not as a set of symptoms, but as individuals. To see how it is best to serve them, so together we achieve the health goals they wish to reach.
Just like the people who come to see me, the root cause of any symptom is highly individual. One person’s illness may be driven by stress which is undermining their immune or digestive function; another may have a long history of antibiotic use that created a microbiome imbalance; some medications might create nutritional or hormonal imbalances; pain might be exacerbated by previous traumatic events as well as poor diet.
Usually there are a number of factors involved, and it’s up to me to unpick all the information given, and create a plan that, over time, removes all the onion layers of ill health to reveal the heart of better health beneath.
Recognising a person’s individuality is also vital when giving them a plan of action – for some, gentle guidance is better accepted than a long list of changes that can lead to a feeling of overwhelm. Others want a challenge, something they can get their teeth into, where they see instant results.
So my role is to understand what makes each person tick, to be clear about their goals, and to guide them forward in a way that suits them.
It is also up to me to empower them by helping them to understand the reasons behind their symptoms, and give them the information they require to stick to a healthier lifestyle and take back their health in the long term.
Because what really makes a difference to us all when we are adopting changes in our lives is: to be recognised for who we are, to feel understood, and to to be given the chance to regain power over our lives, as we travel on the journey to becoming a healthier version of ourselves.
Have you any thoughts on this? What has affected you the most or made the biggest difference to you when dealing with a health professional?
When I took part in the Milnrow Yoga & Wellbeing Festival last weekend, I was approached by Elizabeth King from Three Valley Vegans to do an interview for their blog and newsletter, and also, to arrange a talk in Hebden Bridge for next year. I’m always extremely happy to do these events because I love getting out there to encourage the general population to eat more healthily and help everyone understand how easy it can actually be.
Although the majority of my client’s aren’t vegan, I’ve been vegan for over 5 years, and I love to share the health benefits of eating a diet higher in plant based foods. Just adding a few more fruits and vegetables into your diet can make a huge difference to wellbeing.
Here in the interview I talk about why I became vegan, why I became a nutritional therapist, why we become ill, why chronic disease is on the rise, how we can help our bodies to fight disease, and why we sometimes find it difficult to stick to a healthy eating regime. I’ve also added a link to the popular Chickpea Blondie recipe I take as a taster to events. It’s simple to make and healthy too.
Hope you enjoy both the recipe and the interview! Let me know what you think.
I can’t read minds, but I could sense that he thought I was one strange cookie.
I thought it was funny as it happened, but now a little while later, I’m wondering why it’s considered ‘a fad’ (for ‘fad’ read ‘weird’) to have lots of fruits and vegetables as a regular part of your diet.
If my shopping had been full of processed foods – cakes, biscuits, crisps, white bread, sausages, ready meals etc – he wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. It’s certainly a sad state of affairs that a week’s worth of processed foods, to him, would be considered a ‘normal diet’.
I don’t think he’s alone in this. Over the years I’ve had lot of comments made on my food choices by cashiers as I pass my shopping through the checkout.
I wonder what’s happening to us as a society that we see foods containing lots of artificial additives and sweeteners as the norm (while some of the ingredients are not even recognisable as real foods), yet if we eat a diet of simple, fresh produce it’s seen as questionable behaviour?
If eating ‘junk’ is a normal way of eating, no wonder we are witnessing a rise in chronic diseases, including bowel cancer in the young. This has been found to be directly related to lifestyle factors (including ‘worsening diet‘), and is worrying for the next generations, who will pick up the eating habits of their parents. I wonder if eventually our young will even know what a fresh fruit or vegetable looks like? We already have a situation where many young people can’t identify what animal particular meat products come from. We are becoming increasingly dislocated from our natural food sources.
It’s definitely time we start rethinking the way we look at food.
I like the fact that I am in a position through my work to help people to learn the benefits of healthier eating and guide them to make better choices. It can take a little time to get your head around it, but often my clients are surprised at how easy it can be. Understanding the purpose of healthy eating is the main thing (people don’t realise there is a link between diet and issues such as insomnia, anxiety, joint pains, stress, fatigue, depression etc) which is where I come in as a nutritional therapist.
If you don’t eat a lot of fresh produce, why not make a start by adding a portion of fruit or veg to your day today?
Yesterday was a fantastic day. It was the first Littleborough Wellness Festival at Littleborough Cricket Club, organised by Littleborough and Area Ladies Circle, with all proceeds going to Rochdale & District Mind. I met some great people, both the stallholders and people who came to visit.
I was blown away by how many people were looking for more natural ways to deal with their ill health or improve their health. There’s a lot of interest out there for changes to the way we eat and live our lives. What I was hearing, however, was that there is so much conflicting information out there that people often get confused and don’t know where to start.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. A good starting point is with the BANT Wellness Plate and their 7-a-day Eat a Rainbow handouts. I was explaining to the people who came to chat with me that half their daily intake of food should be focused on fruits and vegetables, but also, that it’s important to eat a wide range of colours and types of plant-based foods. Our gut bacteria thrives on different varieties of fibres and polyphenols within plant-based foods, so diversity is key. The spectrum of colours available in fruits and vegetables offer different benefits – helping immunity, mood, energy, hormones, digestion, cardiovascular and skeletal health etc.
Although eating like this is beneficial to everyone, sometimes it doesn’t improve the symptoms we may be experiencing. Depending on what’s going on in our bodies, it may even make things worse. At this point it’s advisable to see a professional who, during their consultation, will try to identify the potential root cause of your issues. We are all individuals, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The triggers and drivers for our illnesses differ from person-to-person, even if they are suffering with the same condition.
One of my favourite parts of the day was talking to representatives from MIND and the University of the Third Age who expressed interest in me participating in workshops and talks with the general public. This is very exciting, as it means I can spread the word about the benefits of dietary and lifestyle interventions to a greater audience. Nutrition has an important role in mental health and healthy ageing, but it’s not always so easy to be able to implement dietary advice when you might be living alone or struggling with mental health issues. It would be great to offer support and strategies to these groups in ways that suit their individual needs.
Finally, I’d like to thank my friends Natasha Sophia Sarak (of Prestwich Health Heroes) and Pauline Holt, who turned up yesterday to support me. Cheerleaders help us move forward, and feel positive and focused! I really appreciate them taking precious time out of their day and I certainly felt the love. Thanks guys!
I’m currently reading ‘When the Body Says No’ by Gabor Mate. It’s an interesting and readable book about the effects of stress on our health outcomes. It describes not just the stresses we feel on a day-to-day basis, but also how our responses to stress might become hyper-reactive due to certain childhood experiences. Many people don’t even recognise their stress because it becomes part of who they are. This doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging however. He connects chronic stress (and our responses to it) as an underlying factor in every disease, including Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Heart Disease, Cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diabetes and Arthritis.
The problem with chronic stress is that over time it starts to negatively affect the body. Constant cortisol release puts the body in ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means the body is in a state where it is ready to escape, so the focus is taken away from important systems such as:
– the immune system – the digestive system – the reproductive system
As a result, our body is:
– unable to digest food and absorb nutrients as efficiently as it should;
You might begin to suffer from more
– colds, allergies, food intolerances and other immune-related issues;
Or you might experience symptoms connected with hormone imbalances.
In high levels, cortisol becomes inflammatory, and chronic inflammation is linked with poor health outcomes.
Cortisol is also linked with energy and the sleep cycle. When it becomes dysregulated through stress you may start to experience symptoms such as insomnia and fatigue.
Taking more time to relax, meditate, and sleep well all have a beneficial effect on your stress levels, and ultimately your health. Put away your gadgets 90 minutes before bedtime too. You may use them as a way to relax, but they have proven detrimental effect on our stress levels.
There are also dietary factors that impact cortisol release, so remember, reducing stress is not only about what you do, and how you perceive and respond to stressors, but also include the quality of the foods (and drinks) you put into your mouth.
This may be the PERFECT Christmas present for yourself or someone you know. For January, I’m offering a mini nutrition assessment for £25 (normally £30).
Perhaps you’ve been thinking about improving your diet, or friends or family want to make changes, but need a little direction. This 45 minute session includes a diet diary analysis and focuses on a symptom you’d like to alleviate. You will leave the session with an understanding of the potential root cause of your symptom, how you may improve it through dietary and lifestyle changes, a nutrition plan and some supplementary recommendations. (NB. This assessment is NOT suitable for more complex or long-standing health conditions).
Please contact me on 07935 599449 to find out whether this service is suitable for you, or to book an appointment. Gift vouchers in values of £5 are also available through Physio & Therapies in Todmorden on 01706 819464.